January 19, 2010

Changes to eHow Earnings Algorithm?

Update on Mega-Backlinking

I had a question come to me regarding my backlinking of eHow articles since Thanksgiving which I touched on in my post titled InfoBarrel Versus eHow. If you haven’t been following along I’ve gone on a mission to send a ton of dofollow backlinks to my eHow and Blog articles from various submissions sites including InfoBarrel and various article directories.

In roughly two months I’ve backlinked 100% of my eHow articles at least once, 76% of them at least twice, 57% of them at least three times, 40% four times, 23 percent at least five times, and a few backlinked over ten times with a spattering in between.

I’ve also sent dofollow backlinks to my best performing blog posts on my Longevity Blog and here from the same sources as well as blog carnivals.

The question was this:
“Out of curiosity, have your views picked up at all since you mega-backlinked recently? How about pay? Does Google do a once-a-year shuffle of article ranking (just wondering)?”
My answer - Regarding eHow specifically, my article views on average for the first 18 days of January are up 22% over the average daily views I got in December... that would imply an increase in earnings of roughly 22% as well however my earnings per 1000 page views have dropped considerably.

On face value yes, my article marketing and backlinking has considerably increased my organic search traffic to my eHow articles month over month and I continue to expect further gains in the future. However there has been a lot of talk on the eHow forums about low earnings this January. Some of this is being fueled by some of the long running writers who have experience significant success and longevity on the site. Many of these writers also feel something is wrong.

My eHow Earnings Experience

My earnings per 1000 page views on my eHow articles for September '09 – December '09

September - $9.76
October - $10.19
November - $10.25
December - $10.41

Notice the obvious trend of slightly increasing earnings per page view month after month. This is the result of aging and optimizing ads. As the article matures the ads are more appropriate. As far as Adsense goes your page will receive better converting ads as you get a history of ad clicks on a page. When Google understands what ads convert better for your content the ads will be better optimized and your earnings per 1000 page views will increase.

Declining eHow Earnings

Now see my figures for January 2010.

January - $7.94

This is through the first 18 days. Despite the very tight range for the previous four months and the increasing trend due to aging this month is seeing far worse conversion of page views into earnings. What makes this crazy is that my article marketing and backlinking since Thanksgiving has produced increasing page views month over month.

Even though my page views on eHow articles are up 22% over December my earnings per 1000 page views are down 23.7%. That is huge considering my tight range for four months in a row... each month even increased until now.

eHow Earnings Glitch?

Something is up with eHow; I'm sure of it. This month I have added only one article to eHow so it doesn't have to do with a large influx of new articles which aren’t earning due to their relative youth... all articles are simply not earning like they should be or have been in the past.

Truth be told, my eHow articles were earning at a fairly normal pace for the first week of January... until they said they would pull eHow UK articles from their database. From that time on earnings/1000 PV dropped considerably.

Every day my number gets lower. I'm curious how low it will go. After all nothing has changed. I haven't edited my articles, my best performing articles haven’t changed their placement considerably in Google, some are up a few spots even. In fact my Blog earnings on How To Live Longer (my Longevity blog) are up considerably January over December on an earnings/PV ratio. We’re talking they’re up 79%! I’ve done the same backlinking to my articles there as I have with eHow, my earnings at eHow should not be declining.

eHow Earnings Algorithm

This has nothing to do with advertisers. In my mind this is a change in the eHow earnings algorithm and/or a glitch associated with the pulling of articles from eHow UK. What are your thoughts?

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  1. The earnings low could be related to ehow PUBLISHING (not pulling) articles on the UK site. About Nov - Jan the articles with the UK links were outranking USA articles in google search. While ehow does not pay per view if there is no traffic - then there is not much else to contribute to the earnings algorithm of US articles. Ehow is in process of fixing this since they can't or won't compensate for our UK articles.
    Great job on the back linking and this is very interesting. I look forward to seeing what happens after the fixes are in.

  2. Very good point Darla. Though I don't think I mentioned it in the post I do feel the earnings oddities are closely related with eHowUK problems. I find it odd that views are unchanged over the past 10 days yet earnings are so low.

    I wonder if our views on UK articles are being added to our tally. If so this might be the reason earnigns per view are declining but why would this only start occuring a week into January for me and others. So many questions that we can't answer. Anyway, as our articles unpublish from UK them hopefully things will return to normal.

  3. I'm curious if you've evaluated what people are actually paying via Adwords per click. You can't really assume that the PPC bid price remains constant. Different niches can have significant increases or decreases in bid prices for the ads based on advertiser decisions. If one major player who bids high backs off several keywords, leaves a niche or leaves Adwords for another means of traffic generation, that will have an impact on your CPM.

    Additionally, there's also a chance that Google has downwardly adjusted eHow's payout based on smart pricing. If the clicks on ads published at eHow are converting at a lower frequency for any reason, the value per click can be downwardly adjusted. Those alterations occur irregularly and *could* have an impact on your CPM, as well.

    I don't know which niches in which you work, but this can also have an impact on earnings. Many niches experience increased ad clicks in the months leading up to the holiday season. While traffic may increase, there's always a chance that people are not in the same "shopping" mood and are, thus, less likely to click ads.

    I'm not saying your assessment is wrong. I'm just wondering if you've considered the numerous possible explanations unrelated to the ones you've isolated.

  4. Thanks for the great theories Carson.

    Let me address them one by one. Regarding the Adwords CPC, all of my top articles main keywords have almost exactly the same CPC value now that they had three months ago when I started tracking this. One keyword's CPC is down about a quarter and another is up about a quarter. My other main keywords (keywords with potential) also fit the same finding. CPC is basically unchanged.

    The concept of changing advertisers is a decent argument. What I've learned from others more experienced than me is that Advertisers with poorly optimized landing pages typically pay more CPC than advertiser with optimized landing pages. It's possible that as a new year starts many of the poorly performing advertisers stopped advertising because their marketing budgets reset to a new budget year. The advertisers with well designed landing pages which performed well have likely stuck around. When you're dealing with high CPC this is a real possibility if I'm allowed to assume anything. I wouldn't however feel this makes a big difference for low CPC keywords; at least I would assume this makes less of a difference.

    Smart pricing is a possibility... but, I doubt it. My personal Adsense account has never been smart priced but as far as I understand smart pricing would drop your CPM by more than 20-25%. I've understood it would drop by well over 50% and possibly as much as 75-90%. Again, I cant speak from experience but I think the smart pricing of eHow would be more dramatic than what I'm calculating.

    Niches are a fickle thing and I agree seasonal niches or shopping niches could vary greatly depending upon the time of the year however none of my niches (with few exceptions) are seasonal for the holidays or for shopping. They are informational pieces which if anything are geared for the Summer. These pieces should be evergreen and convert the same month in and month out.

    Despite my argument in the post I believe it's too early to say definitively that eHow has changed their algorithm we will have to wait and see how the UK thing plays out. I am hopeful that the earnings decreases are due to a glitch or complication derived from solving the eHowUK predicament.

  5. These are very interesting results. My earnings are quite low this month. I think many people calculate earnings and falsely assume that because the money is increasing that nothing is "wrong", but then you find out they have added several articles increasing the earnings potential. To me, that throws stats off.

    I think your linking is phenomenal! The more links we have around the web, the easier (hopefully) it will be to get to the articles/websites.


  6. Thanks for the comments JP, I agree that many people calculate earnings too simplistically. If I was calculating earnings based on month to month changes I'd see that earnings this month are roughly flat compared to last month... however calculating them on a CPM (dollars per 1000 page views) basis I see that earning are indeed much worse this month over last. In fact since I posted this entry my CPM for January on eHow is down even further. It's now sitting around $7.50 per thousand... I think this has to do with a new normal that took started around the 8th-12th of the month. Essentially the first week of January nothing was changed but since then things have been bad and the average is settling closer and closer to a new normal, lower than the last normal.

    I hope that this is UK related and things will go back to where they were before in a timely manner but I don't see any indication of this yet.

    Thanks for the encouragement of the linking. It's a lot of work. I've generated about 130 backlinks in January thus far and am now focusing on sending backlinks to InfoBarrel from article directories. This should make those IB articles fare better in the SERPs and will also let them pass more juice onto the eHow articles and blog posts they link to.

  7. I am seeing a big decrease in earnings after the ehow UK redirect. The UK site was hurting us but the fix is killing us. See this thread:

  8. Jade, thanks for pointing out that thread. I don't spend much time on the eHow forums and I don't know if I'd have seen it otherwise. I posted a long dissertation on the thread but figured I'd say briefly here that I no longer believe the UK site is affecting eHow articles.

    Somewhere around the 25th of January my earnings per 1000 PV increased back up to what it was in the Fall. February is even shaping up to be my best month on eHow ever. My income per page view is over $11 for the month of Feb. People still having trouble need to seriously look at their backlinking strategy or adopt one if they don't have one. It's not the algorithm, it's search rankings.

  9. It's a very interesting theory you have here, and I hope you don't mind me playing devil's advocate.

    What if the type of traffic that comes from your backlinks: blogs, directories, etc., are just not as likely to click on an ad? Not sure WHY they wouldn't, but what if? Maybe the person searching from Google has gotten to the article too indirectly (going through the article directory first) and would rather hit "back" than another deeper link (the ad).

    I do think you have a valid point so I'm not trying to discredit you; I just like to consider different possibilities since ehow's algorithm is such a mystery :) And after all, the method you describe here IS beneficial to your earnings, so that's the important thing!

  10. Thanks for the thought Amber; you know if someone were to follow the links through the blog or directory links and not click ads then that's fine. I would imagine people coming from these sources would be fairly targeted and they would be more prone to click and ad than someone that regularly reads your blog (subscriber).

    The point with these types of links is not necessarily the traffic, though that is an indirect benefit, it's mainly the link that is important. If I get enough links then my traffic from Google should be the one's clicking ads.

    For instance at eHow. I have no idea what the algorithm is but I do know that eHow makes money on the ads. Them somehow some of that money is paid out to writers. I also know that eHow wouldn't be making money from ads if they weren't getting plenty of search traffic. That's what those backlinks bring, search traffic. If people follow link paths to get to the articles then that's fine but the search visitors are where the money is for eHow and for us as writers.

    Thanks for stopping by!

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